LAWRENCE, KS – The Kansas Jayhawks women’s soccer team opened up their 2018 campaign Friday night, under the lights of Rock Chalk Park and for the second-straight season, the first test was a big one.
Last season, KU’s home-opener was spoiled by #25 Nebraska, but tonight the tide would be different. The Jayhawks welcomed the #18 Pepperdine Waves onto the pitch, and emerged with a 1-0 upset victory.
Freshman Goalkeeper Sarah Peters (Lee’s Summit, MO) got the start, prior to having even stepped foot in a class at the University of Kansas, but it was her play that helped Kansas secure the victory.
Peters registered two saves and a clean sheet, shutting out the Waves in the season-opener, but made numerous plays outside the box that won’t show up in the stats, snagging arrant passes and cross attempts, as well as playing aggressively in front of the box, thwarting any momentum from a Pepperdine push.
“I thought our defense did really well in front of me,” said Peters, “I did a good job communicating with them throughout the whole game, I thought they did a really good job on that line.”
Generally, a freshman as green as Peters would feel nervous or anxious prior to their first career start, in a match against a ranked opponent no less, but the composure of Peters helped anchor the Kansas defense and secure the Jayhawks’ first shutout of the year.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure as a freshman, but I just try to come in head strong, confident in my team, and ready to play,” said the Kansas keeper.
Peters helped to secure a ball early in the second half, sending it long, and finding a fortunate bounce off a Pepperdine defender and leading Kansas Forward Katie McClure (Junior, Wichita, KS) all the way to the game’s only score, a breakaway finish in the 61st minute.
“I just saw it straight to goal,” said the junior, “I was lined up perfectly so there was no other way to put it, so I just kind of just took my touch right to goal and it set me up for a shot.”
Last season, McClure finished second on the team in goals scored, with six. Her season-opening score was also a game-winning goal, already matching her mark of one from a season ago.
Historically, the Jayhawks have played well at Rock Chalk Park against ranked opponents, registering wins over USC and Texas last season. Tonight, the Jayhawks kept with the trend, but Head Coach Mark Francis hopes to buck another trend that seems to follow big wins, and that’s disappointing losses.
“I would hope we get up for every game, but I do think that when you’re playing against a team that comes in as a ranked opponent, I just think there is a bit of a different edge to it,” said Francis. “You want your players to prepare and be the same mentally for every game, and hopefully we’re going to do a good job of that because that’s something we haven’t necessarily done a good job of, but when you’re playing against ranked teams, it’s easy to get up for that game.
Kansas will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, hosting the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Rock Chalk Park, with kickoff set for 1PM. If you’re unable to make it to the pitch, you can listen to the action live at www.kuathletics.com/radio or on the Kansas Jayhawks mobile app, with KJHK Sports’ Nick Springer on the call.
Kansas 1, #18 Pepperdine 0
Kansas – Pepperdine
6 SHOTS 8
2 SAVES 1
2 CORNERS 5
5 FOULS 6
McClure (KU) 61′ – Turnover at midfield taken to goal, unassisted.